I’ve often wondered how a mother, homemaker and wannabe Proverbs 31 woman like me ever gets a “day of rest” and if I’m sinning by not keeping one day off a week. While I worked full-time after Asher was born, I assumed I was honoring the Sabbath by laying around the house on a weekend day (most likely Sunday) and didn’t consider anything I did as a mother as work at that time. Now I don’t work, you would think every day is a Sabbath with this logic! This couldn’t be further from the truth as I’m seeing now that I’ve been a housewife and full-time mother the past few months–there is no chance of a traditional day of rest! Of course, I’m [very] pregnant and we’re in the middle of renovating our house, so perhaps this is as bad as it gets–talk to me in a few weeks when I’ll have a newborn in addition to the madness! 😉
In Exodus 20:8, God commanded the Israelites to, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” I didn’t grow up in church (we were “CEO Christians”–Christmas-Easter Only–at best) nor did I have a Christian mentor to guide me as I grew up reading my Bible and periodically attending church. Therefore, I’ve consequently struggled in many ways, particularly with legalism and trying to control situations entirely on my own. “God gives us instructions, it’s our job to follow His commands” has always been my way of thinking–must not use the Lord’s name in vain…must honor the Sabbath…must not lie…must not murder… Ironically, I’ve always failed in the worst ways at following them, which has driven me to give up completely on maintaining some of them in the past and moreover on achieving that perfection mark of never breaking a commandment. Next starts the comparisons, “At least I’ve never worshiped a golden calf…” Please. Getting off topic…moving on.
What’s a day of rest?
Our lead pastor at Redeemer Church, Greg Gaumer, is currently preaching a series on Exodus, which included a sermon on the Sabbath day last weekend. I need to listen to it over again because my pregnant self can’t remember all the details, but the things he said prompted many a thoughts and investigation to discover how we housewives and mothers can sneak in our day of rest. In one of his sermons and commentary, Pastor John Piper offered insight that resonated some of what Pastor Greg preached, which gave me a better understanding of the Sabbath day and God’s intent for it. Side note: Piper’s commentary also gave me a profound sense of peace as I have struggled with doubt–perhaps someone else will benefit from it as I have.
I’m no theologian, so I encourage you to read the Bible and commentary on scripture or talk to your pastor regarding the Sabbath day to determine what it means for Christians. It seems there are varying interpretations of this command out there, and I pray the Holy Spirit guides you to the right information. I believe it’s along the lines of the sermons from my pastor and John Piper. I think in part honoring the Sabbath requires us to rest in the Lord and honor Him by tuning things out and focusing on Him through deliberate rest and devotion. So when is that “day of rest”? My conclusion for a mother of a toddler and [soon-to-be] newborn like me, that answer is I don’t get one in the sense that I take a complete day off from my labors to worship the Lord. Between nursing, washing diapers, feeding my family, keeping a budget, grocery shopping, keeping a garden, and cleaning a house, I really can’t ever expect a full day’s rest. Sigh. Truthfully, can anybody in any role have a day off every week anyways??
Less than a donkey
So I don’t get a full day’s rest until the kids old enough to ship them off to grandma and grandpa’s house overnight, which will not be a weekly occurrence for us anyways. Does this make me less than the ox, donkey and livestock who are supposed to get a break one day a week as per Deuteronomy 5:13-14? By no means! Jesus worked on the Sabbath. He also took naps and rested, which is what I believe we can do. We can also adopt a proper attitude to our roles as housewives and mothers by not complaining about the heavy workload we have. The Proverbs 31 woman “rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens” (Proverbs 31:15). I doubt the household took days off from eating! Not mention she had a whole lot more on her plate that took quite a bit of time to complete I’m sure.
Although I don’t get what I consider a full day off anymore, I’ve never felt more at peace with where I’m at in life because this is where God has called me to be. Of course, not every day is perfect, nor am I always so chipper to wake up doing the same things over and over again, but I’m at peace. I take naps and rest when I can. I regrettably don’t spend enough time praying and reading scripture at this season, which is the rest I truly need on a daily basis. I may not get a day off, but when I’m not laboring, I am intent to have my “Sabbath moments” of prayer, devotion, rest and cat naps from this point on. I hope we all find this time and devote ourselves to our Savior.